Gun Digest

Ammo Brief: Speed Pioneering .250 Savage

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Designed to push velocity limits, the .250 Savage ushered in a new era of high-velocity cartridges.

Historical Notes

Designed by Charles Newton, the .250 Savage was introduced by the Savage Arms Company as a high-velocity round for the Model 99 lever-action rifle. The original loading used an 87-grain bullet at 3,000 fps muzzle velocity, and Savage named it the .250-3000. One suspects the 87-grain bullet was chosen because it could be safely driven at 3,000 fps with the powders then available. This allowed Savage to introduce it with the ever-so-sexy name, “.250-3000.” Remember, in 1915, when this cartridge was introduced, riflemen were still marveling at cartridges achieving 2,000 fps.

About 1932, the 100-grain bullet load was marketed by Peters Cartridge Company; and later, the velocity of the 87-grain bullet was slightly increased. Now, it’s simply called the .250 Savage. The Savage Model 20 and Model 40 bolt-action rifles also chambered the round, as did the Winchester Model 54 and Model 70 bolt-actions. Late in 1971, Savage announced that the Model 99 would again be available in this cartridge. Others, such as Ruger and Remington, have also made rifles in this cartridge.

General Comments

Flat trajectory, outstanding accuracy, and good killing power on anything up to, and including, deer are established characteristics of the .250 Savage. It was—and still is—excellent on varmints through deer. In the past few years, it’s been edged out by the .257 Roberts and the new 6mm cartridges. It’s far superior as a deer cartridge to the .30-30 or anything in that class—regardless of what some .30-30 “addicts” claim.

Because of its light recoil, it’s an excellent choice for youth and women. The .250-3000 is the basis of one of Ackley’s best wildcats, the .250 Ackley Improved. Winchester continues to load a 100-grain round (X2503), but the 87- and 120-grain bullets are no longer factory loaded.

Editor's Note: This article is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World, 16th Edition.

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